Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10, 1936

Oh, my darlings, I have been away so very long - months, is it? Can it be? Yes, months! I cannot begin to tell you the things I have endured since then; no, I really cannot! Perhaps at some time in the future when I am emotionally, spiritually stronger, I may be able to do so. But not now, my darlings, not today....

All my plans for returning home to London went awry, horribly - horribly - awry. There's been just the most beastly bash up between Ivor and Noël. But I shan't go into it...no. They both wanted - demanded really - that I star in their new productions, and I found myself brutally crushed betwixt them; how could I be expected to choose? How could anyone? Oh, I really can't even speak of it. What a hideous position in which to find oneself. A star - just a simple artist, really - fought over by those two geniuses, those titans of the theatre. What great screaming rows and floods of tears I have endured. Oh, ghastly...ghastly...! But please, please do not ask me to speak of it!

So you see, after all, my darlings, that I am still here, languishing in this very silly Oregon. And since I do reste ici, the invitations will still keep flooding in. I can never get away from all of that. Ah, yes, popularity.... It can be so taxing. But I did go to the most charming fête nuptiale last evening. It was held at a lovely Chinese garden here in Portland; who would think they would have such a thing? The weather has been appalling all week, so I rather feared for the poor bride; finding oneself a sodden mass of taffeta and tulle on one's wedding day can make one really quite cross! Haha! But the weather was benign and the evening most mild.

The garden is all built round a pond with bridges and terraces looping this way and that, dripping with chinoiserie. It's all rather on top of itself but in the most charming manner and everything was admirably arranged; there was a pavillon for drink, deux pavillons for food, even a pavillon for the eventual cutting of the gâteau de noce. Blessedly, we weren't forced to remove our shoes, which I find the most beastly nuisance. Oh...but perhaps that's only a Japanese custom. I'm not sure; one can hardly be blamed for being confused about all this Oriental business. It's all so very irregular.

There were all manner of lovely places to pose or sit, to drink and dine. The champagne was not quite my dear Veuve Clicquot. It was Italian, if you can believe it - I had no idea such a thing existed - but at least it wasn't domestic and so I am not suffering from it today! I have no idea what we dined upon. None at all. But I expect it was something Chinese, of course. It was all quite vague and mysterious and not like proper food at all, but really quite surprisingly delicious. Though one does feel more secure with identifiable food - and it's sure to wreak havoc with my dainty English digestion. But how funny and whimsical: chopsticks at a wedding! Oh, la!

They hired the most remarkable musician who played throughout the evening. He sawed away on some sort of strange object: a gourd, a stick, and a few little strings. Very eerie and, well, Oriental, I suppose. It was the sort of thing one might assume to be migraine-inducing, but I found it very, very lovely. Made me long to throw myself upon a silken divan and smoke opium! Haha! Though, when he swung his way into a very languid version of Danny Boy, I'm afraid I was a bit alarmed. The Irish may be rather pushy, certainly, but I can't believe they've made it all the way to China! Oh....

I must admit to a bit of a gaffe: I was not properly attired. No. This being Portland - Oregon! - I assumed it best not to dress to quite the degree instructed by the invitation. Here, one is forever endeavoring to dress as well as warranted by the occasion and, inevitably, coming up over-dressed; it has been most embarrassing! So I chose a sweet, summery little frock by an English couturier. You don't know him. Bright pea-green crêpe de Venise with white marjolaines embroidered round the neck and down the sleeves, and a wide flounce of mousseline de soie. Right as I was leaving for the wedding, I had a mad bit of inspiration and pinned a bunch of wildflowers at the corsage - oh, I did look pretty! Really, I did! Hardly any jewelry - when I have so much to choose from - I was, then, a nearly Pre-Raphaelite vision. A full-blown late-summer vision; I might have been crowned with sheaves of wheat! Oh, la! And then, wouldn't you just guess, all the other lady-guests trotted in with long gloves and all their best jewelry! The full fig! Imagine my horror, my chagrin. My only consolation was that I really did look so charming and fresh. And to be completely honest with you - as I must be - when you're as famous as I, much is necessarily forgiven. Penny has been visiting from beastly Los Angeles and accompanied me. She was - as always - less calculating in these matters and, therefore, fortuitously, chose a more appropriate toilette. Shell-pink organdy and pearls. And, of course, the delightful fraîcheur of youth; she looked terribly pretty. Now that her brows have once again been brought to heel.

The ceremony itself was held in the largest pavillon and was very touching; everyone weeping and smiling and weeping and laughing and weeping. Oh, most enjoyable. We sat rather near the back. My celebrity can be such a distraction, of course, so I do try as best I can to lurk about in the background at any normal gathering. But the distance may have been the cause for my muddle about what actually transpired. Because I never managed to catch a glimpse of the bride. Imagine that! There were all sorts of lovely people up front, on the dais, as it were. A few, dear older ladies at one side. Certainly not brides. No.... One very nice lady who was got up in a pretty green costume; she may have been Chinese - I don't know - but a bride, I think not. And another charming lady, quite chic in brown satin. But brown is never a color for a bride, not even the most scandalous remarrying divorcée. There were two gentlemen who got up and went on for quite some time, one really rather jolly and the other very sniffly. I have no idea what they were speaking about, but they seemed very, very serious and emotional, so perhaps they were related to the bride in some way. But where was she? I was so very disappointed. I do hope she managed to have a pretty gown, at least - something imported....

We had more of the Italian champagne - I suppose it isn't champagne if it's not French, but what is it, then? - and some very pretty and delicious cake. Penny was frightfully filled up with all that funny Chinese food - she hasn't any sense where her appetites are concerned, and always overindulges - so she begged me to finish her little bit of cake. I thought it only polite that I should....

It was all very nice and refreshing - one always so enjoys a good weep! Haha! And I'm certainly feeling in a most Oriental mood this day! I wouldn't dare to eat any more of that extraordinary cuisine, and don't expect I'd find any opium to smoke, not round these parts - oh, la! - so I think I'll have my little Malaysian come round and give me a nice bright red nail varnish instead! Oh, yes, lovely!

Goodbye for now, my dearest darlings!

PS - I never did find my Schiaparelli hat...!

5 comments:

Penny Prévert said...

Honestly, mother, you don't have to tell the whole world every little thing I eat. I didn't tell everyone that you drank enough prosecco to kill an elephant.

Lu said...

Mad! SO good to hear from you again.. I have been a touch worried about your long silence. I feared all manner of possibilities for your absence and,knowing you, my imagination did run a bit wild! But here you are, still in Oregon! Do give my best to your charming daughter.. Hollywood does miss her so!

Madeleine Prévert said...

Haha! Hollywood may have the baggage back if she won't stop with her silly insinuations! Really, darling, you make mummy sound like rather a dipsomaniac!

"Lu", dear - haven't you any further name? - it is so very sweet of you to have missed and worried over me so. But I don't know what there was to fear; I've just been sitting about...um...knitting!

Lu said...

Knitting, dear? Surely you jest.. I'm sure there are those who might believe this silly claim.. I, dearest, am not one of them! Knitting!! I'm quite overcome with laughter.

Madeleine Prévert said...

What are you talking about?! I'm not at all certain that I care for your tone. You seem to doubt my domesticity, or whatever one might call it. My "domestic artistry"! I know all sorts of ladylike activities, I can assure you. It's just that I'm usually far, far too busy to indulge them. But I've knit and crocheted - yes, that too - all sorts of useful things. Baby things and sweaters and all; I'm frightfully adept!